Memories of John Wanamaker’s, Wilmington, Delaware

The weather here is fall-like. I find myself thinking about autumn in Delaware. We had a September ritual. Mother took us to John Wanamaker Department store in Wilmington shopping for dark cotton.


Memories of Wanamaker’s include:

The first floor had the bakery, furniture, and housewares. Up the escalator to the second level and you’d find clothing, jewelry, and cosmetics.  I don’t recall if they sold toys.  Maybe Madame Alexander dolls?

The bakery made drop cakes, which were about as big around as a large cookie. They were domed and dipped in frosting. I always chose chocolate.

The children’s department had a huge swing hanging from the ceiling. Perched on it was a giant stuffed teddy bear. I would reach way up, grab a fat rope, pull hard and set the bear swinging. That was fun.

The Ivy dining room, aptly named because the walls were papered in a green and white English Ivy print. We’d go there for lunch. Marilyn usually got a club sandwich. No memory of what Mother ate. Naturally, I had a cream cheese on soft white bread, the kind that has no nutritional value.

The parking lot was tiered. You parked then descended many levels to the store entrance.

Mother purchased a very 60’s looking coffee table at John Wanamaker. It was long, sleek, low and had a starburst inlaid on the top. The legs joints were wrapped in rattan. Marilyn hated that table.

The lines of the table were a lot like this.


Daddy took me to Wanamaker’s shopping while I was in college. He spent way more than Mother would have. I got long cream color nightgown trimmed in grosgrain ribbon with matching robe. I also bought a navy blue swing coat with brass buttons, new navy pumps, and a cute short dress.

I modeled the items for him as he sat in a chair, beaming. He did love his girls.

Wanamaker’s later became Macy’s. I wonder if that building is still standing?